4 Money Saving Ideas for DIY Fly Fishing Gear

These Simple DIY Tricks Are Dead Useful and Dirt Cheap

By Will Jukes

I realized that fly fishing is an expensive habit the first day I tried to buy a deer hair popper.  My preferred fly shop didn’t have one for less than $10 dollars, nor did the shop on the other side of town.  This may have been one of Hemmingway’s favorite pastimes, but a modern writer’s salary has often forced me to put off critical maintenance because I couldn’t afford line care products.

Naturally, I’ve gotten interested in ways to cut costs without cutting corners.  Some are simple, like finding budget substitutes for common products.  But if you want to go further, there are some really ingenious DIY fly fishing solutions out there.

Handy fly fishermen have taken DIY to the extreme, building their own rods from scratch for as little as $100 dollars.  Tragically, most sportsmen don’t have the tools or expertise for that kind of project.  But these DIY tricks are simple and cheap – or even free – and often wind up more useful than the gear they replace.

Paracord Fishing Lanyard

flickr/Dave Murphy

This is probably the most challenging project listed here, but the average fly fishermen should have the skills for it; if you can tie knots, you can tie a paracord lanyard.  100 feet of paracord runs as little as $6 bucks, and tying instructions are available online.  With some ingenuity and a few cheap carabiners, you can hold nearly all the gear you need closest at hand; nippers, forceps, extra flies, extra tippet, your fishing net, et al.

Paint Strainer as an Aquatic Bug Sampling Seine



I’m not much a hatch matcher, so I never would have though of this, but for the true believers it’s a game changer.  Just put the strainer over your net, dip it in the water, and see what you come up with.  It can be purchased for pocket change at Home Depot.

Toe Nail Clippers in Place of Nippers


I think everybody’s done this in a pinch when they can’t find their nippers the night before a fishing trip.  I also think we’re little ashamed about it.  Don’t be!  It’s a perfectly adequate for trimming light leader and tippet.

Quick Rigging with a Toilet Paper Tube


I’m pretty proud of this one, because it’s my own invention.

I was a huge fan of Loon’s rigging foams and tenkara line holders; they make it easy to store, rig, and swap flies, but the cost adds up if you rig more than two or three flies.  Especially if you tend to lose them.  After I lost my second $12 dollar line holder the night before a fishing trip, I scoured the house for a cheap substitute.  In the bathroom I noticed that someone, no doubt in a rush, had left a used toilet paper tube on the counter.  Since that night, I’ve stopped using rigging foams and line holders.

The toilet paper tube is literally free, you definitely have one in your house right now,  and it can hold multiple flies.  It’s sturdier than you’d guess, too, and I haven’t had to replace one yet.  It can also be improved on; to make it more durable, cut styrofoam to fit and insert it inside the tube.  To improve the look, wrap it in your favorite color felt.

I never thought of myself as a DIY kind of person until I got inspired.  If you’ve got ideas of your own, or if you feel inspired by any of ours, let us know in the comments.

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One thought on “4 Money Saving Ideas for DIY Fly Fishing Gear”

  1. The toilet paper roll is good but for a better option go to the Dollar store and buy a Foam Pool Noodle. You can then cut it down into whatever length and wrap your pre-tied leaders around it. It’s foam so it doesn’t matter if it gets wet and it floats.

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